Media studies is topic of year-long lecture series

By: Linda B. Glaser,  A&S Communications
September 21, 2016

The new field of media studies will be explored in a series of lectures beginning on Oct. 6 that focus on emerging research, particularly by younger scholars in the field. The year-long series will present a range of approaches to the field, from the perspective of cultural studies to media archaeology and digital humanities. All talks are at 4:30 pm in the Guerlac Room in AD White House and are free and open to the public.

“The approach to this series is totally unique to Cornell,” says Tom McEnaney, assistant professor of comparative literature and co-organizer of the series. “Not only will it showcase the most transformative thinkers in media studies—from specialists in information theory to disability studies and media archaeology—but it brings that scholarship together with cutting edge research in critical computational humanities. We hope the intersection of these conversations will really point the way forward in these fields.”

“People from all across Cornell — scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and information sciences, as well as artists, musicians, and librarians — actively investigate media. We hope this series will both support existing relationships and spark new ones across the university,” added Jeremy Braddock, associate professor of English and co-organizer of the series.

The series arose from a working group convened last spring that includes faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences; Cornell Computing and Information Science; Art, Architecture and Planning; and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, meeting regularly to share their work and discuss curriculum development related to media studies. Members of the group nominated the speakers.

Orit Halpern, author of “Beautiful Data,” will be the first speaker in the series. Her topic is “The Smart Mandate: Ubiquitous Computing, Design, and Resilience.”

“Her work, which has provided a history of ‘big data,’ shows how studies of information and technology are of increasing interest to scholars of media,” says Braddock.

A leading media archaeologist, Jussi Parikka (University of Southampton) will offer a non-Western perspective on media studies in his talk “Speculative Design Baghdad 800 – Istanbul 2048:  A Media Archaeology of Ingenious Devices,” based in part on an exhibition he was involved with in Istanbul on speculative design in the Middle East.

Computational approaches to the digital humanities will be presented by speakers including Andrew Piper (McGill University), whose work on the origins of mass print, “Dreaming in Books,” won the prestigious MLA First Book Prize. He’ll be addressing what is meant by cultural inequality and why it is an important problem to solve.

William “Ted” Underwood, PhD ‘97 (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) will speak about narrative history at different time scales and the relationship between close reading and big computational perspectives.

Elizabeth Ellcessor (Indiana University), will discuss the role of media in disability, taking the perspective of cultural studies, an approach that marks a distinctive tradition within media studies. Sarah Sharma (University of Toronto) also takes a culturalist and ethnographic approach. She’s the author of “In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics” and will be presenting new work on the relation of feminism to the “gig” and “sharing” economies.

Series sponsors include the College of Arts and Sciences, the Society for the Humanities, and the Central NY Humanities Corridor.

2016-17 Media Studies Speaker Series

All talks are at 4:30 pm in the Guerlac Room, A.D. White House.

Oct. 6: “The Smart Mandate: Ubiquitous Computing, Design, and Resilience,” Orit Halpern, Concordia University

Nov. 3: “Exits / Vectors / Gigs: Techno-Feminism for the ‘Sharing Economy, ‘” Sarah Sharma, University of Toronto

Nov. 18: “The Data of Cultural Inequality,” Andrew Piper, McGill University

Feb. 23: “Sliding Scales of Interpretation,” Ted Underwood, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

March 9: “Cultural Accessibility: Disability, Digital Media, and Participation,” Elizabeth Ellcessor, Indiana University

March 15: “Strategic Desire,” Patrick Keilty, University of Toronto, Central New York Humanities Corridor Digital Humanities Lecture

April 27: “Speculative Design, Baghdad 800 – Istanbul 2048:  A Media Archaeology of Ingenious Devices,” Jussi Parikka, Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton)

A version of this article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.